February 06, 2017
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1878: Return from the Harvest.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, c.1878, Cummer Museum, Jacksonville.
January 25, 2017
Cummer Museum and Gardens.
I've mentioned the small but elegant Cummer Art Museum and Gardens here sporadically, usually in connection with a particularly famous piece in its admired collection. Other times you saw older photos of its founders taken in the early 1900s. I'll give the Cummer its due at some point.
For now? The Cummer was once the home of my mother's Aunt Nina Holden Cummer in central Jacksonville, Florida. It was built in 1904 by Nina and her husband Arthur on 2.5 acres on the St. Johns River. The couple began buying art almost immediately after moving in. Arthur died in 1943. After his death, Nina continued the acquisitions, slowly and studiously expanding and diversifying the collection. Parts of it now date back to 2000 BC.
"Aunt Nina" lived at what is now the Museum until her death in 1957. My parents spent the night before their wedding here in July 1950. There are now some 6000 objects in the collection. The gardens date back to the original gardens built to complement the house. The Cummer continues to grow its collection. It attracts about 130,000 visitors a year.
October 29, 2016
John Quidor, 1858: Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane.
The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, 1858, by John Quidor (1801-1881) Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.
September 05, 2016
Legal London: Love, Literature and Labor Day.
Here is the complete text of a circa-1595 comedy by Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost. You can read it aloud--or, even better, act it out. First performed before Queen Elizabeth at her Court in 1597 (as "Loues Labors Loſt"), it was likely written for performance before culturally-literate law students and barristers-in-training. The notion was that such well-rounded humans would appreciate its sophistication and wit at the Inns of Court in still over-percolating Legal London. And, most certainly, it was performed at Gray's Inn, where Elizabeth was the "patron". Interestingly, the play begins with a vow by several men to forswear pleasures of the flesh and the company of fast women during a three-year period of study and reflection. And to "train our intellects to vain delight".
March 20, 2016
Happy Spring, all you Druids out there.
Today, Sunday March 20th, is the Spring Equinox for 2016. Also called the Vernal Equinox, it's an astronomical event in which the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the earth's Sun. On this date, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. The Equinox also marks the first day of Spring, and the start of the time of year to revel in and celebrate Rebirth and Renewal, observed in most Western religions and cultures this time of year. Christianity, Judaism and a number of forms of Paganism of course have their own versions of celebrating Spring. See in todays' Sunday Express (UK) all ye need to know about the Equinox. Below: Shooting cherry blossoms, Washington, D.C., April 7, 1922 (LOC photo). Peak blossom time in 2016 will occur this week, March 23-24.
January 31, 2016
Do Faith and Religion oversimplify Real Life? Prevent some of us from growing?
Good Sunday morning--and Query:
1. I believe in a God or gods or some "oversoul" and that there is something eternal and infinite about each human being. I always have.
2. But I don't believe in organized faith or religion. In the case of many--no, not all--people, I think faith keeps them from observing, thinking and learning, and often gets used to sidestep and avoid the marvelous/awful complexity of the Real World.
3. Do some--no, not all--followers of established religions (any religion) either consciously or unconsciously use their religion or faith and its teachings as a way to prevent real growing "first-hand" as a human being?
4. Does organized religion and faith--again, for some, not all--not only simplify things and bring order to life but also serve as a kind of default substitute for exploring, thinking and learning about the actual world around them so that they no longer need to explore, think and learn on their own? So that life is more "scripted" and easier for them?
Do religion and faith oversimplify Real Life and make us lazy and not curious?
Saint Jerome translating Latin Bible, late 4th century. Leonello Spada, 1610. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome. In memory of my late Aldeburgh friend poet, author, professor and translator Herbert "Bertie" Lomas (1924-2011).